Leafs honour medal winners

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:56 AM ET

Though the Leafs brass once envisioned a big ceremony last night to honour gold medals for Pat Quinn, Bryan McCabe and Team Canada, they were good sports and recognized their foreign-born medallists. Champion Swedes Mats Sundin and Mikael Tellqvist received the biggest hand, followed by Finland's Aki Berg (silver) and the Czech Republic's Tomas Kaberle (bronze).

What the Leafs might have considered was paying tribute to any of the amateur medal winners from Turin, including the champion Canadian women's team.

OVECHKIN OVATION

As if Alexander Ovechkin needed any more help honing his skills, he benefitted from two weeks with elite Russians at the Olympics.

"I spoke to (general manager) Pavel Bure, and Alexei Yashin and Alexei Kovalev," Ovechkin said yesterday. "We talked about what I have to do in the NHL, to be physically better and score goals better."

Ovechkin has raised the ire of Canadians with some of his antics on the ice, but still scores jaw-dropping goals and professes to have the greatest respect for this nation's hockey culture.

"It's nice to play in Canada," he said. "When I came to the airport, lots of people knew me and I signed lots of (autographs). I know everyone in Toronto and Montreal love hockey."

The Russians didn't win a medal in Turin, but there's no question Ovechkin will be back in 2010.

"Our team had a great chance, but we must forget that now and look forward to Vancouver," he said.

HEWARD HOMECOMING

Capitals' defenceman Jamie Heward still gets a buzz coming back to Toronto, where he made his NHL debut as a Leaf 10 years ago

"I always remember coming to the Gardens every day, walking in the dressing room, playing my first game against the Canadiens there, scoring my first goal against Detroit," he said yesterday.

The Regina-born Heward played a total of 25 Leaf games, bouncing between here and St. John's.

"My only regret was that it was early in my career, I was just trying to hang on to the team and not just let myself play. It was an experience that went by really quickly."


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